LINCOLN, NE – The Lincoln Saltdogs announced today that the team received two players from the Wichita Wingnuts and two players from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to complete earlier trades. Wichita sent outfielders Angel Reyes (pronounced ON-hell) and Zach Nehrir (pronounced NAIR-ee-er) to Lincoln while Fargo gave right-handed pitchers Travis Ballew (pronounced BUH-lew) and Geoff Broussard to the ‘Dogs.
The Wichita players come to Lincoln after the Saltdogs sent Reyes to the Wingnuts on July 30th. Reyes provided a needed offensive boost down the stretch for Wichita, who finished 1.5 games out of the playoff-race in the South Division. The utility player batted .320, clubbed seven homers and drove in 26 runs over 32 games with Wichita.
The Venezuelan was solid with the Saltdogs before they traded him. Reyes hit .287 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in 56 games in Lincoln. He started hot, hitting .333 with eight long balls and 28 RBIs over his first 34 games, but cooled off in July. He led the Saltdogs with eight stolen bases before departing and finished the season with 18 swipes – double the amount of Lincoln’s leading base stealer. The 23-year-old earned two American Association Player of the Week awards, the first coming in the second week of the season and the next coming on the week ending August 12th.
Nehrir joins the Saltdogs after posting career-high numbers in 2018. The Orange, CA native hit .312 with seven home runs and a team-high 61 RBIs for Wichita. He played in 97 games and spent most of the season hitting second in the batting order. The speedster stole 38 bases – 11 more than anyone else in the American Association. As a team, the Saltdogs stole just eight more bases than Nehrir last season.
The center fielder could address one of the Saltdogs needs for 2019, improved outfield defense. The team shuffled through five different center fielders last season and the team managed only 14 outfield assists. Nehrir is known for his range and posted a solid .975 fielding percentage with Wichita. His 10 assists were the most among center fielders and tied for the most among American Association outfielders.
Before going to Wichita, Nehrir was a prospect with the D-Backs organization. He spent parts of three seasons in their system and peaked with High-A Visalia. His best year was his rookie season, where he hit .297 with 21 RBIs over 40 games with Low-A Hillsboro. The 25-year-old was a 16th round draft pick out of Houston Baptist University in 2015.
The RedHawks players join the Saltdogs to complete a trade that sent RHP Mike Tamburino to Fargo on August 4th. Ballew was a workhorse for the RedHawks, leading the team and finishing fourth in the league with 49 appearances. The righty was 5-3 with a 4.00 ERA over 63 innings pitched. He walked 32 batters compared to 57 strikeouts and allowed just three home runs on the season. He was dominant in the middle of the season, going 12 straight appearances from June 26-July 23 without surrendering a run.
Ballew bounced between the Astros and Marlins farm systems before joining the independent ranks. He reached Triple-A with the Astros in 2015 and compiled a 21-19 record with a 4.29 ERA over his six seasons in affiliated ball. The Texan joined Fargo to finish 2016 and registered a 1.64 ERA in 10 appearances for the club before the Marlins re-signed him entering the 2017 season. The Astros drafted Ballew in the 23rd round out of Texas State University in 2012.
Broussard joins the Saltdogs bullpen with seven seasons of professional experience. He split 2018 with the Sioux City Explorers and the RedHawks, combining to go 0-1 with a 4.07 ERA over 38 games. He was best in Fargo, posting a 2.67 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 27 innings. The Californian recorded five saves and boasted a 12.1-inning scoreless streak between July and August.
The 27-year old spent time in the Phillies, Angels and Reds organizations. He reached Triple-A in 2016 and ’17 for two different clubs. He was 14-12 with a 3.84 ERA and an impressive 9.3 K/9 ratio during his time in affiliated ball. Broussard was a 23rd round selection by the Phillies in 2012 after pitching for Cal Poly Pomona in college.
2018 was the 18th season of Saltdogs baseball in Lincoln. For more information on the Saltdogs, follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.